Monday, July 30, 2007

93 km for the week

With work and life crowding in, I seem to be reduced to weekly updates. Probably not such a bad thing.

Started last week feeling tired and lacking in energy, empty legs, and sore back. Slight tummy discomfort. High temperatures and humidity added to the challenge. I scaled back distances and intensity on Monday (easy 8.4k) and Tuesday (12k). Still not feeling great on Wednesday evening, but jumped into the monthly 5k time trial with a view to run it at HR no higher than 165, which is the same thing I did last month. The 20:06 turned out was somewhat slower than the previous month, but the heat and feeling poorly surely contributed. Ran home from work on Thursday night (12.7k) and found energy levels slightly better. Friday (12.6k) I ran back from home to work and finally starting to move more freely. Saturday morning I was up and out the door reasonably early to try and beat the heat (ha!) and actually had a decent 12 k, fastest of the week, not counting the 5k of the time trial. In the shower later I noticed that I am tender in my right nether region, so might have an infection down there, which would go some way to explain my doldrums. Might have to get it checked out. Sunday (yesterday) morning I got going quite early and headed out to try and run 2 hours, I didn't mind how slowly. Ended up making it to 22 km on the nose in 2 hours and 5 minutes.

I recovered pretty quickly from yesterday's slow run, but with the stomach and abdomen discomfort this morning I have decided to take a day off. There was a cool change overnight and it would have been lovely running weather this morning. Plus yesterday was my 20th day straight. That was something I really would have liked to have continued and it took quite a bit of will-power and mental struggle to resist the urge this morning from about 5:00 as I woke and dozed fitfully, got up, went back to bed, changed my mind about four times ... finally accepted I had to try and do what is best for my body... damn, it will be a low mileage week now ;-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

End of a solid week

Well, running and work have both been conspiring to make it difficult to find time to blog. But this past week I set about trying to apply the principles of the Lydiard running approach while mainly using Hadd's heart rate prescriptions to control my efforts. The principle of the Lydiard approach, as I understand it, is to run as much as you can while keeping the distance and exertion up near, but below, the limit of what you can recover from each day. And the aim is, then, to run every day. Every day. Like all runners, the biggest threat I pose to myself is to go over the edge and head into a slow death spiral of increasing fatigue. Work pressures this week almost caused that to happen through a few nights where I didn't get as much sleep as I needed. But somehow I have got through and logged 97 km as 12, 12, 18, 13, 7, 12, 24. At this stage of the game, 18 weeks from tomorrow until the marathon, this is a pretty good place to be, but I still think that I might have over-reached slightly and will simply be trying to consolidate this next week rather than add on any more distance. At least I kept the intensity down on most of these runs, easy or lower aerobic, and haven't felt any major physical difficulties backing up each day. The only exception was Friday, when ideally I should have been doing 10 to 12, but the efforts on Wednesday and Thursday had left me feeling tired, so I backed off for an easy lap of the Palace with Ms Uchida from my office (she continues to progress and ran a PB for the course!). Today's long run, at 24 km, was a few more km than I should have done, but then it was also a bit slower than it should have been too. The temperatures are staying mild so far (low to mid 20s), but every day is overcast and humid. Bring on WM-18! (=marathon week minus 18 weeks).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lining up Hadd and Lydiard-cum-Mystery Coach

Before I get to the title of the post, I'll just fill in the last few day of running. A typhoon brought a very rainy old weekend. On Saturday morning I visited a sports club and got in an upper aerobic 10 km on a treadmill. I discovered the incline function (all the controls are in Japanese you see, so I'd never known what that button was for) and found that it can really help you get a decent workout without constantly feeling like you are about to get thrown off the bloody thing. I still don't like them.

On Sunday the typhoon had set in properly and rain was falling constantly, but there was no wind and it was warm, so I headed off into the rain. I had discussed my intentions with Gareth and tehre was a chance I might meet him in Yoyogi Park. (Colin and others were all off at a race in Nagano.) At the designated meeting time of 9:00 in the park, the rain was growing steadily heavier and not a soul was about bar a few soggy crows. I gave Gareth the customary 5-minute allowance, still no signs of life so I headed off. With a couple of minutes I bumped into Mika T coming the opposite way and so we shared a very wet but warm 10 km together and I turned for home. A soggy but satisfying 20 k. That brought up a satisfying 77 km for the week.

Yesterday (Monday) was a public holiday (Ocean Day). I met up with a friend who has a predilection for speaking Spanish and all things Mexican and ran a couple of laps of the Imperial Guest House (Gosho) with her, generally easy but surging up the hills. An invigorating 12 km all up, though the warm conditions started taking their toll by the third lap.

This finally brings me to today and the title of this post. I've been reading up on all the Lydiard related theory posted by the enigmatic "Mystery Coach" (and commenters) on Mike's blog. As Ewen and others have noted, the methods of Bideau and Hadd, et al. all have a basis in Lydiard. Lydiard's prescriptions tend to be pace related determined from what he calls your "steady state" pace, the fastest pace you can run for 10 km or so every day and be recovered enough to run the next day without getting worn down. The most important word here is not "fastest" but "be recovered". Workouts are then based on a percentage of this pace, ranging from about 8% slower to the same pace.

Hadd, of course uses heart rate based prescriptions rather than pace-based. I have been basing my training on Hadd, but have been seduced by the incredible knowledge of Mystery Coach and really attracted to his ideas on the fiber recruitment model.

So to see just how the Hadd method compares with the classic Lydiard approach, I had a play around with some of Mystery Coach's numbers that he provides for developing a stamina build up. From an educated guess I assumed that my steady state pace is about 4:20/km, from which I calculated that the easier paced days that Mystery Coach prescribes for the early part of the program would have me running at about 4:40 pace. I thought that sounded interesting and based on recent experience was probably not too far off the mark for the Haddish lower aerobic heart rate runs.

So today when running around the Palace on an unseasonably cool day, I put this to the test. The first lap (5k) at 4:40 resulted in a HR considerably lower than the upper range of Hadd's lower aerobic, but that would not be unexpected even if I was following a heart rate guide for the run, since it does take a while for the system to get loaded up. It is the latter part of the run that the prescriptions really come into effect. And sure enough, during the second lap, although I did at times dip down into the 4:20s, the average pace was only a bit faster than 4:40 and the heart rate was right around the 139 to 143 area, exactly spot on for a lower aerobic run. You can see the data here. So this is good stuff. I feel that I much better understand the relation between these two fundamentally similar systems and feel the ability to mix and match somewhat without compromising the integrity of the program. In particular, I am pretty keen to adopt Mystery Coach's suggestion of running faster (100% of steady state) on Saturday (the day before a long run) to activate/fatigue the harder to get at muscle fibers and then bring them into use, i.e., condition them, during the next day's long run. Of course, all this depends on me staying injury free :-(

And if you have read this far, I'll reward you with a little anecdote from today's run, slightly grimace inducing though it is. On my first lap, I was running along concentrating on pace and heart rate and so on, and a nice fine drizzle had started. It was near the Otemachi stretch where the path is a little narrow and the paving is surfaced with that fine pebble-crete stuff. A guy and girl were jogging along side by side ahead of me and I started to pull out to go around them which would have blocked off the path, but I looked ahead to see a guy on a bicycle hurtling towards the gap I was about to close. I saw him in plenty of time to pull up and leave the gap open, but he, the poor bugger, saw my move and reflexively went for the anchors, unfortunately locking up the bike causing his front wheel to slide out from under him. Thereafter he involuntarily used his right knee and elbow as landing gear on the way to becoming fully sprawled over the pavement. He was still a good 10 m in front of us when he went down, indicating the prematurity of his actions, and also the speed he must have been going at. We scraped him and his bike up off the pavement. He was grimacing in pain but being very stoic. Luckily with the greasiness of the path he didn't lose any skin. He was a bike courier and was pretty good about the whole thing. I think he knew that whichever way you diced it, he'd screwed up: too fast for the conditions, notorious place for joggers at that time of day, misjudged and hit the anchors way too early...still, I couldn't help but feel bad for my part in it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Getting back to normal

The back is still a bit stiff, but much better than it was. I went for a bout of cross-training last night. I spent 12 minutes on a stationary bike, then 5k on the treadmill (does that count as cross training?) and 1 k of freestyle. Plus I did a few strength exercises, but I need to approach those in a more structured way.

This morning the alarm woke me from a deep sleep and I fumbled my way out the door and ran a lower aerobic 15.5 km in 1:14:35, average pace of 4:48, average heart rate of 141. The humidity made this a tough little run. I only aimed for it to be lower aerobic, but despite the conversation over at Ewen's place, I did find that my heart rate crept up past the upper figure (143) for lower aerobic. I slowed as necessary to stop it going too far out of range, but still the average HR after 30 min is above what it should be, and the gradual heart rate drift can be seen in the pace vs heart rate of the splits.

I was still definitely a lot happier with it as a run than last Friday's, which although doesn't look too bad on paper, practically did my back in.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Germaine Greer on Aborigines

oldsprinter posted a link to a very good article by Germaine Greer on the aboriginal issue. At first it seemed like she was just going to rehash the same analysis that many other commentators have provided on why Howard's Crusade (as oldsprinter put it) is deeply flawed and cannot be interpreted as anything other than a deeply cynical political and ideologically driven exercise. But the article goes much further and draws heavily from her own experiences visiting aboriginal communities and friendships she has made within them. She provides some important insights and gets closer to the source of finding enduring practical solutions to the issue of improving the aboriginal condition than most other commentators.

There was one passage though that I did find a little hard to reconcile with my own understanding of the history of early white settlement. She said:
The Aboriginal peoples reacted to contact in different ways. Some were used to foreigners visiting their land. Most assumed that the newcomers would adapt to their way of life, and offered to help them find food and show them how to survive by studying and venerating country. Even when diseases brought by the Europeans reduced thriving communities to a handful of traumatised survivors, there was no concerted attempt to drive the interlopers away. By the time the Aboriginal peoples realised that the newcomers had laid claim to the whole country and everything in it, it was too late.
To suggest that there was "no concerted attempt to drive the interlopers away" is a complete misreading of the real history. When aboriginal tribes understood the enormity and permanence of the white "invasion", they did resist. And they resisted stoutly. In NSW there was something of a guerrilla war that lasted fifty years or more after the first fleet (I guess these days it would be called an insurgency). But ultimately, guns, germs and sheer weight of numbers won out. Perhaps this is what she means by realizing too late. Still, it smacks a little too much of the noble savage rendering of history, and there are one or two other examples of that in the article. Which is not to diminish its overall thrust. It just brings to mind the reality of the sordid early history of white settlement. A legacy that I think hangs around our neck to this day.

I have been reading a book, actually two books in one volume, about the Northern Territory. They were written in the early 1960s. One is by Douglas Lockwood called Up the Track, and one by Bill Harney called To Ayers Rock and Beyond. Well worthwhile getting your hands on, especially the Bill Harney book as he recounts his time as the first ranger at Ayers Rock (as it was then known) after it was declared a national park in the late fifties. He shares a lot of what he learned from the aboriginal elders from the region during his time there.

But it is the Lockwood book that is germane to why I think Germaine glosses over the reality of the nature of the early contact. Lockwood recounts several incidents of history that are at once brutal and ugly and difficult for us descendants of those times to come to terms with. I will reproduce here an expurgated (for brevity) version of one passage. As the passage starts, Lockwood is being given a tour of an old telegraph repeater station in Barrow Creek by a chap called Tom. He goes on to describe an incident that occurred in 1874:
Perhaps it is not surprising...that the repeater stations in these remote spots, weeks and probably months from help, were built as fortresses with stone walls two feet thick and narrow loopholes commanding large fields of fire from within. The linesmen who had to go out on horseback to repair wires cut by the malicious natives generally travelled in pairs. Even so, there were those who failed to return.
Tom was saying something about the stone in the walls . . . but I had wandered off again to that hot as hell night in 1874 when the Kaiditj came down from their cubby-holes in the table-top mountains, their black bodies unseen in the dark, and crept to within a few feet of five men sitting on the front veranda of the station. The white men were unarmed and separated from the safety of their fortress. [Lockwood then introduces a couple of the men in the party, James Stapleton and John Franks.]
Suddenly, an incredible shower of spears fell among them, hurled by shadows now dimly seen but unmistakably heard as the quiet evening was pierced by their yells. The white men tried to regain the safety of their fortress through a gate leading to a courtyard at the rear. . . "Yes, that's it," Tom was saying. "They tried to come in through here . . ." but they were driven back by a second volley of spears from primitive tacticians who must have expected them to do just that.
John Franks was speared through the heart and died within a few minutes. At the gateway, Stapleton fell with no fewer than four spears in his body.
Finally the men were able to get through into the fortress. They armed themselves at once and poured a volley of shots through the loopholes ... and cleared the ground.
[section of waffle omitted]
The natives reappeared on the following day, but were fired on from five hundred yards and retired after leaving a dead man on one of the world's loneliest and least publicized battlefields. There was a grim sequel. A punitive expedition was soon organized and rode out to extract revenge. At least seventy aborigines, men, women and children, are known to have been shot. A near-by watercourse was named Skull Creek, for the obvious reason. And there is said to be a mountain named Blackfellows Bones, though I don't know it.
The graves of Stapleton and Franks are still there beside the road in Barrow Creek, a lonely monument to courageous pioneers who rode into unknown hostile country so that Australia might communicate with England.
From "Up the Track" by Douglas Lockwood, 1964 (1995 reprint by Seal Books)
There is a certain poignancy to that last phrase. Scenes like this were played out all over Australia from 1883 until as late as the 1920s. The aborigine has always just been "a problem" to be dealt with using the most expedient measures available and acceptable to the times. Ignore him, shoot him, civilize him, assimilate him, but don't try to understand him and meet him on his terms. He isn't really human enough to deserve it. It seems some things never change.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Easy easy

The back is sorta kinda improving each day. After the easy 10k yesterday morning I went for a pretty serious bit of massage last night at a clinic (K's in Ebisu) that treats some very good athletes, including Mara Yamauchi, who came second in the Sapporo half marathon behind Mizuki Noguchi on the weekend (and ahead of 6th placed Catherine Ndereba). I digress. The masseur also deigned that I was in need of getting a few needles jabbed in me, so I came to have my first encounter with acupuncture. It wasn't bad, but I cannot proclaim it to be a miracle cure either. Not for whatever I've got, anyway. I was in great fear of the massage, not for any pain I might feel, though there was some of that, but for the fact that I might find myself thinking that this is something I need a lot more of. I had good reason to hold that fear. Damn it was good. But at $50 a pop, I just can't do it very often. I dunno, maybe I should aim to go once a month or something. Do a night a month at a host club in Kabukicho to raise the readies.

Tonight, track night, I skipped track and had a good run in Yoyogi Park with Colin. One hour and fifteen minutes of nice easy/steady pace in pretty high humidity and a few squalls. Under the circumstances I think it is a good outcome. And rest assured, the back is getting plenty of stretching.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Caught short

I have often wondered if my continual niggles in the left leg have any structural or gait basis, but never got around to doing anything about it.

With the fact that I am going for a sports massage tonight in mind, I did something simple this morning that I have meant to do for ages, check whether my legs are the same length. After the shower, clad only in my best pair of Bonds briefs (an image I could have spared you all, but ha!), I sat with my butt against the wall, legs stretched out straight, and got my wife to come and give the old pegs the once over.

"Your left leg is about a centimeter shorter than your right leg," she immediately blurted out with a kind of sadistic smirk. Sure enough, I could even see it myself. My left ankle bone touched against my right leg quite conspicuously above the right ankle bone. Damn! Fourty-four years it has taken for me to notice this.

Now the million dollar question is whether this is a) the cause, b) a result of, or c) not even related to my back and other left side problems. And finally, what kind of practitioner do you see about getting a definitive analysis and remedial measures? I have heard that short-legged bastards can get a heel lift shoe insert. I wonder if one centimeter is enough to justify such an intervention?

A tentative come back

Thanks for the assorted "Get well soon" comments.

I took Saturday and Sunday off running. It was hard to swallow given that I was on track for such a good week, but there wasn't much option. I got onto the Ibuprofen and generally just took it easy.

By yesterday morning it was feeling somewhat improved, but far from 100%. SO I decided to use the ticket to a sports club I have and went for a swim before work. That was fin and I did 2 km in 40 minutes. By theend of the day the back was feeling heaps better and the little hip injury thing had pretty much faded into the background. Great stuff that Ibuprofen.

So I braved a run this morning. I ended up having a reasonably crappy sleep and the back was a little tender when I woke up. This time I decided to a) not force the pace, and b) Just aim for 50 minutes. So in the end it was a very easy 10k in just over 50 minutes at an average heart rate of 126. I felt only mild discomfort and never that I was making things any worse. So if I can continue to nurse it back to health this week while keeping up a few runs like this, I shouldn't go too far backwards.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hobbling & humbling

My lower back has flared up. I worked at home on Tuesday and I think the chair I used is the main culprit. It was a bit stiff on Wednesday, but didn't really hinder my running. Yesterday it was somewhat worse, and due to the discomfort combined with a deadline at work, I didn't run.

So I woke up this morning, got moving and knew immediately it still wasn't the best, but I have run through lower back pain before so thought I'd give it a try. Ended up being a pretty difficult run. Quite painful and slow for the first 4 km or so. Then I stretched my legs and back when I hit Komazawa Park, and it improved a little. I finally got my pace better than 5:00/km, but not much. Still felt like I was hobbling. I did a couple of laps only and then after a toilet break headed home. When I was fully warmed up I was moving OK, but it was a bit of an effort. My heart rate was higher than it should have been for the pace. By the time I finished, my right hip was hurting, probably because of an altered gait. I should have known better. Here's the breakdown.

From a training perspective it wasn't complete write off, but I hope I have not set myself back further by pushing through. I have a tendency to do that, especially when, as now, I am trying to lift the workload. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A good compromise

Last night it was Wednesday night at the track, i.e., VO2max intervals of some sort. When in aerobic training in the past I have skipped these and gone into Yoyogi Park and tootled around at below LT pace. Got an email from Gareth in the afternoon asking what my plans were for the evening and I said I wasn't sure. Track is more fun and interesting, but I have started aerobic base building so want to avoid running above lactate accumulation pace.

After a 5 km warmup in the park we headed to the track (at which point the drizzly rain decided to get a bit more serious). With none of the regular leaders in attendance, Gareth took over the podium and stop watch and announced we would do 5 x 1200 on a 7-minute cycle. I decided to run them at a lower intensity than I would if it was a full-on interval session, thus they became what McMillan calls cruise intervals (4:26 to 4:32/1200 for me).

Rather than think about pace too much I just said I'd try to not let my heart rate get much above 160. As it turned out, that gave me a set of times just a bit on the slow side of McMillan's suggested range. They were pretty comfortable to run and I was even talking a little bit during a couple of them. So I did one more for good luck. Final result: 4:40, 4:38, 4:33, 4:31, 4:34, 4:31. Full log entry here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Back into the routine

I meant to post yesterday morning's run much sooner but just got too busy. Basically my stock standard Tuesday morning route to Komazawa Park with a few loops for 14 km in 1:03.

Average HR of 140. So a bit harder than Monday and heart rate drift was noticeable. It was meant to be lower aerobic, and the average heart rate definitely is, but late in the run I was straying into upper aerobic territory. I am determined to try and stop doing that so that a lower aerobic run stays in lower aerobic territory the whole way. Most important.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A new start

I bought some new Asics Gelfeathers, a pair of discounted New Balance trail shoes, a top, shorts and socks yesterday at Art Sports. So decked out in an all new ensemble this morning I had a nice easy to lower aerobic run of 10. 5 km at an average and pretty even 4:39/km. It wasn't hot, but the humidity was incredible, as it has been the last week or so, and as it especially is tonight. Sultry, muggy, steamy, oppressive. So while there was no stress at all on my legs, I was still a lather of sweat by the end.

It was a good way to kick off the first week of my new marathon buildup. Yep, 21 weeks until Ohtawara, and the training starts now. Feeling pretty good too because I am certainly in better shape than I was at the same time last year, and I don't think I really even thought about the marathon until August last year. So let's hope I get the buildup right this time.

I don't normally run on Mondays, but had to do my long run Saturday to free up yesterday for judging in the WanCup home brewing competition out in Chiba. That was very convenient for my anal retentive side because it meant I could get the log up over 300 km for June, whereas had I run Sunday, those km would have gone into July's ledger. Only just scraped in over the 300 too.

For the Saturday run I was up at 6:00 and out the door by 7:00. It was already quite warm and, yep, humid as hell. "Thank goodness I am not delaying this until later." I thought. I found it fairly tough going toward the end of the 21.5 km. Turned out that was about the warmest the temperatures got all day! It seemed to be noticeably cooler by 10, perhaps back up to the early morning temperatures around 1:00, but by 3:00 it really cooled off where it stayed until the next day. Very strange weather.

Anxiously wondering how some fellow bloggers went yesterday at Gold Coast ... just when ya ready fellas ;-)